Editorial: Disinformation a poor tactic

Reports have been released indicating the Pentagon is developing plans to give friendly nations news reports, both true and false, as a way to influence international public opinion about the United States. This is a ridiculous and dangerous tactic that could easily backfire on the United States and ostracize it from its allies. Good relations are built on trust, whether true or seemingly, but to purposely mislead a nation and admit that is the goal is underhanded and wrong.

Since Sept. 11, the United States has been concerned about its image, mainly in Islamic countries where the military wanted to post troops. To combat possible bad images, the Pentagon created the Office of Strategic Influence. The distribution of propaganda is not new, but even the recent activities of dropping leaflets and broadcasting radio messages are dangerous tactics. The goal of these actions was to construct a positive view of Americans and to convince Afghans that the bombing of their country was necessary.

However, that is a war tactic. Perhaps not quite ethical, but in war, rules change. The Pentagon’s new plan, though, to purposely deceive allied and friendly nations with what the government calls “disinformation” is an outrage. Doing this will not only undermine U.S. credibility in the international world, but will also spark doubts by Americans as well.

According to The New York Times, another proposal of the OSI would “promote American views and attack unfriendly governments.” If even the United States’ own allies can’t trust this nation, how can the country expect to be welcomed anywhere in the world? The Pentagon is setting a poor trend of purposely misleading friendly nations by destroying its own credibility and being so straightforward about it.

Hopefully, dissenting Pentagon officials will be able to block this proposed tactic before it begins and salvage the nation’s reputation before our allies begin to doubt our credibility.